CAB - 7 Oct 2020 - 10 Oct 2020 - Advice

Transport / Ferry company says it is following the rules by keeping the bar open

The NorthLink ferry terminal in Lerwick. Chris Cope/Shetland News

NORTHLINK Ferries has been accused of putting “revenue above people’s lives” by keeping its on-board bars and restaurants open over the weekend despite the government advising on Friday that pubs, cafes and restaurants should be closed.

A number of people have contacted Shetland News in the last couple of days complaining that the bars and restaurant on board the Hrossey and Hjaltland have continued to stay open.

The bar was open on last night’s (Sunday) sailing from Aberdeen to Lerwick, with one passenger saying there was one group which included around five or six people sitting close together.

One person said it was “utterly disgraceful” that the bar was still open – and that no social distancing measures had been introduced.

They said “revenue is being put above people’s lives”.

The correspondent added that crew were equally concerned and had highlighted their views to management.

The cinema has also recently been open, while gaming and vending machines have been switched on.

Another passenger on board the ferry said the company’s conduct was “totally negligent for a lifeline service, for crew and passengers alike”.

NorthLink was slow to respond after having been contacted first thing on Monday.

The company’s operations director Captain John Strathearn did however later say that NorthLink was “continuing to follow the relevant guidelines and advice”.

“The wellbeing of our passengers and staff is our top priority and we are taking all necessary precautions to ensure their health and safety,” he said.

“We are continuing to follow the relevant guidelines and advice from the government and public health officials. The situation is fluid and so we will review our service offering and ways of working in line with recommendations.

“We would like to remind all passengers to adhere to government guidelines when travelling with us for the safety of themselves, their families and our staff.”

Asked whether the bars and restaurants would open again on Monday night’s sailings, a spokesperson said the company had no further comment to make.

Transport on the NorthLink ferries, meanwhile, has been restricted to essential travel only following reports of people heading to the Highlands and Islands to “avoid coronavirus”.